Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone:” An Ever-Changing Interactive Experience
The video (click here to view it) features 16 different channels, based on real TV stations including ESPN with Steve Levy, The History Channel, BBC, HGTV and more, and shows such as Pawn Stars and The Price is Right, including star Drew Carey. Other celebs include comedian Marc Maron and rapper Danny Brown. As you flip through the channels, all the people on screen are lip-syncing the lyrics to “Like a Rolling Stone.” The technology behind this is fabulous—no matter what channel you’re viewing, the song continues seamlessly and the actors are in sync. Go ahead and watch it for a while. I’ll wait right here.
There’s a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes of footage if you watch every channel all the way through, but it’s most entertaining to channel surf. The video took about two months to shoot, with many “channels” shot in one location in New York, although The Price is Right was shot on their set in LA, and the tennis match was shot in Israel. Vintage Dylan footage was edited together to create the VH1 Classics-styled channel. Interlude used their own proprietary Treehouse technology to allow the seamless transitions and interactive experience.
Some of the actors struggled to say the lyrics while staying in character for their TV role. In a interview with (ironically) Rolling Stone magazine, the video’s director said he instructed his performers "not to refer to the lyrics of the song. It's like they're trying to say something completely else, and their mouth is possessed." According to Heymann, the host on the cooking channel would rehearse each shot pretending she was going to give actual culinary instructions, and then substitute Dylan lyrics at the last moment. The dessert she prepares is an actual recipe (with the ingredients detailed by onscreen graphics). "You can make it at home," Heymann promises.
The video release coincides with the release of a new 47-disc box set The Complete Album Collection Vol. 1. Dylan was very involved and helped secure many of the celebrity appearances. He knew he would have to create something very unique for such a classic iconic song.
Viewing it multiple times reveals some clever planning behind the randomness. Check out the call letters of the station doing the podcast. Or that shopping channel hostess is selling a dust-buster and singing “As you stare into the vacuum in his eyes,” and the Pawn Star hosts sing “You better pawn it, babe.” The HGTV show about buying a home talking about being homeless. How many other references are there? Countless, for anyone with an active imagination.